When cold weather descends upon the state Hoosiers say, "This would be a good night for chili soup." There are many variations on Hoosier chili soup but these ingredients are fairly typical: Hamburger, onions, tomato juice, canned tomatoes, chili beans and spaghetti and chili powder.
Some Hoosier gourmands (like me) add peach slices to the soup as a piece de resistance. Years ago, Winterlein, an Indiana company sold a chili block that many cooks used.
In 2009 some Hoosiers make concessions to age and health and use chicken or turkey instead of hamburger and call it white meat chili. Ugh! Chili soup lovers across the state shudder like a 1958 Dodge pickup transmission shifting from first to second. Some use macaroni instead of spaghetti. Ugier! Or white beans. Ughiest!
People from other states also eat chili soup but do not include all of the right ingredients. Some omit the spaghetti and beans. It might sort of look like soup it may smell like it and it may have a similar taste but it can not, could not, should not be called chili soup. The constitution protects our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness on a cold night by eating properly prepared chili soup.
And then there are those from other countries like Texas who eat chili -- no soup is involved. They use beef and pork and no beans or spaghetti. A favorite sport in Texas is chili cook-offs involving mountainous amounts of hot peppers. They have several levels of chili to indicate hotness. The lowest level is Shirley Temple Chili, half meat half peppers, for the uninitiated eaters like Hoosiers. At each succeeding level the ratio of meat to peppers decreases so that at the highest level the chili is almost all peppers.
Camp Fire Chili is for those who like their chili hot but not so hot that it burns tissue. Round up chili is so hot it is used to brand longhorn bulls and cauterize wounds. Payday Chili is so hot that grown men sweat so prodigiously that their hats slide down over their ears and they can't see to drive. Saturday Night Special Chili is so hot that wooden spoons burst into flames. Those who eat more than one bite will be unable to taste anything for at least a week because all of their taste buds explode and two layers of skin from their tongues burn away like sagebrush in a forest fire. Then there is the coup de grace, Caldera Chili. Exposure to skin brings blisters in seconds. Belt buckles been known to melt. Caldera eating Texans do not need to be embalmed. A cowboy dropped his spoon on his thigh while eating caldera and he lost all feeling in that leg for two weeks. He had to go to rehab to regain the use of his leg. The pans used to prepare that chili and the dishes used to serve it are made of the material on the outside of the space shuttle to protect it from the heat of reentry to our atmosphere. That is not chili soup. It is magma from the bowels of mother earth.
Larry grew up north of Calvertville on a farm and graduated from Worthington High School. He lives in Plainfield and can be reached at Goosecrick@aol.com or (317) 839-7656. Write him at Larry Vandeventer 6860 Sunrise Drive, Plainfield, Ind., 46168. He has written five books.